I’ve been seeing entrepreneurs receive and rely on ‘advice’ from ‘advisors’ that have zero business giving said ‘advice’ for about two years now, but for some reason have been seeing more of it than normal lately.
These ‘advisors’ typically have little to no experience working with a company in the stage or market of the entrepreneur’s startup and often times the ‘advice’ given is outside of their core functional area of experience.
To be fair, I have seen first hand the impact a great advisor, who actually meets the above criteria, can have on a business, but the reality is most don’t and when I see entrepreneurs make significant changes based on this ‘advice’ it totally bums me out.
What entrepreneurs are most prone to falling into this trap?
In my opinion it is first time seed-stage entrepreneurs located between the coasts.
I say first time because once you are on your second act you have probably learned your lesson.
I say seed-stage because it is the point in time in your startup journey where you have the most gaps. Your startup likely doesn’t have many customers, there aren’t many team members to use as sounding boards, you are not a market leader, you have little idea on what metrics you should be working towards. Because of this you are more impressionable to the opinions of others than you will be when you have more proof points.
I say between the coasts because I believe that other emerging startup communities are likely to be similar to Minneapolis/St. Paul in that there is a smaller pool of advisors that are relevant to your business.
In my opinion the underlying issue is a lack of confidence.
And my message is to have more of it. Have. More Confidence. You are likely doing better than you think.
Somebody who has managed large divisions in Fortune 500 companies for the last 20 years does not know who your first 5 hires should be. You probably do.
Somebody who worked in enterprise software does not know what feature your should prioritize for your consumer mobile app. You probably do.
A lawyer incorporating your business does not know what your best go-to-market strategy. You probably do.
The overly complicated financial model a part-time CFO built you (and that you don’t need) does not dictate what the right pricing for your product should be. You probably do.
And feedback from a VC that has not made any investments in your direct market sure as hell shouldn’t change your strategy.
Listen to your customers. Don’t underestimate your own skills. Trust your gut.
And most importantly, if you take advice, make sure that advice is from someone that has relevant experience at your stage, in your market and is core to their area of expertise.